NBR, Critics Choice, SAG, Globes and several critics winners and nominees are in. Here are my updated predictions.
The best picture race is interesting this year. There have been many great films released but several are dropping. Out of all of the blockbusters this year (Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit) Skyfall seems to have the best chance, but that is not going to happen. Flight is out of the race for Best Picture, as is Promised Land which held some promise after NBR but currently holds 55% on Rotten Tomatoes and no precursors. I had actually thought This is 40 had a slight chance with its good reviews and solid release date, but it won't get in after missing out completely at the Golden Globes.
That leaves 11 movies remaining for 10 slots. And with the new format (a really complicated voting system that I don't understand in the slightest) anywhere between five and ten films could be nominated. I would estimate somewhere around seven nominees this year, but it could go up to nine like last year.
The consensus seems to be around the same five movies. Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables, Argo, Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook are all locks for nominees. Silver Linings Playbook won't have the steam to win, Weinstein really dropped the ball by changing it to a limited release. Lincoln is still a favorite of many and is racking up precursor nominations and box-office receipts. Argo's early release date may harm its chances at winning but it still might. Les Mis has received its fair share of negative reviews but it also has many passionate about it. I think that voters will respond to how emotional and epic it is. It will be nominated no matter what, but the fact that Hooper isn't a lock for director is its main obstacle. Then there is Zero Dark Thirty which has been nominated for everything it hasn't won. 100% on Rotten Tomatoes still and the frontrunner for Best Actress puts this at the top of the five. The main thing that could keep it from winning is that it may be politically more divisive than Lincoln, Argo or Les Mis. But expect something war related to win.
The other films in contention are not locks, one missed precursor could be it for any of these six films. Life of Pi is back in the race after the Globes nominated the film, score and Ang Lee. However it has been missing from several other precursors and isn't up for any acting nominations (which is a shame because Suraj Sharma and Irrfan Khan deliver some of the year's best performances. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which has reentered the race after the SAGs and the Globes. The SAG ensemble nomination may signal its Oscar potential. However it won't have as many passionate supporters as other movies. The Master has remained in the race, but it is certainly not a guarantee. The movie has largely been forgotten and seems to have done the best with critics groups, definitely needs a PGA nomination. Django Unchained has been showing up pretty consistently. However the topic of slavery may be a turn off to voters, as could Jamie Foxx's SNL monologue. Moonrise Kingdom has been showing up fairly inconsistently in the precursors, so some people are remembering it but it may not be enough. Then there is Beasts of the Southern Wild whose chances are looking slimmer and slimmer. If does not receive notice in the next few weeks it may unfortunately be out of the race.
So my current predictions for picture are:
Zero Dark Thirty (winner)
Silver Linings Playbook
Life of Pi
(Might sneak in) Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
I don't see the top five of Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables, Argo, Lincoln or Silver Linings Playbook being threatened. They are all locks and one of them will win. However how many films nominated total and which of Life of Pi, Django Unchained, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom and Beasts of the Southern Wild will make the cut are very much up in the air.